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General Information and News Monitoring

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Survey results

The survey results are as follows:

Over 48% of farmers’ associations reported that the drought situation currently is worse compared to normal conditions this time last year, with 20% of associations reporting that the situation in their area is dire.

These reports, of a worse situation this year compared to this time last year, are consistent with lower production expectations with 49% of associations confirming farmers are experiencing lower yields.

Veld grazing in only 8% of the associations surveyed is reported as “good” with the overwhelming majority reporting moderate (44%) and bad (44%) conditions. Of these associations, 56% reported that at this stage their farmers have adequate fodder requirements despite the prevailing drought conditions, however that this could worsen going into winter.

44% reported dam levels to be below 50%, though thankfully many districts have received good rainfalls in the month of February. Worryingly, 48% reported water reserves to be in a poor condition, with only 18% of associations reporting their areas water reserves to be in a good condition.

Commodity- specific survey results:

Cattle

Area dependent, the surveyed associations reported varying results; however, with the overall outlook of a worsened situation for cattle farmers across the province. Low rainfall, leading to poor grazing conditions, combined with the effects of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in the northern regions of SA, have all adversely affected the cattle/ beef industry.

Livestock

Across the board, the survey results show a critical outlook for livestock production and grazing conditions, with one association reporting as much as an 80% drop.

Dairy

The effects of the drought for dairy farmers is evident in the increase in the cost of maize and grain, on top of winter fodder concerns. Together with diminishing dam levels, placing stress on irrigation supplies, the survey indicates an overall downturn for the industry.

Dryland Maize

One of the worse affected commodities, the survey results show critical conditions with many crops a total disaster in some areas. Those with irrigation, have reported fair to moderate conditions, though this being dependent on imminent rainfalls.

Sugar Cane

Varying results are reported from associations representing sugar cane farmers; with most reporting slightly lower yields, while some reported as much as a 75% drop in production. Water stress is evident in many areas, with many farmers dependent on good rainfalls in February.

Timber

The survey indicates a moderate effect on this industry with lower production levels and poor planting conditions as a result of the drought.

Macadamia Nuts

With a broad area of farms under Macadamia Nuts, the survey results indicate a very different situations dependent on areas. While some farmers are facing dire production results, with as much as a 65% drop in yield due to drought conditions, farmers in other districts are reporting stable conditions with future low dam levels a potential concern.

Other commodities

Cotton, peanuts, butternut and soya bean farmers are all reporting dire conditions, citing low rainfalls, low dam levels and hot conditions as reasons. Hay, maize silage, wheat and Eragrostis seed production levels are all also down according to the survey results. Tea Tree farmers reliant on rain, have reported planting lower yields and therefore lower profits; while the bee industry has cited poor flowering of flowering plants due to low rainfalls.

The survey however, does indicate the following commodities as not currently adversely affected specifically by the prevailing drought conditions; pineapples, potatoes, game, dry beans and bananas.

For communal farmers, the survey results indicate the drought has affected commodities across the board. With cattle/ beef farmers reporting depleted grazing and future water supply as massive concerns. Maize production, according to the survey indicates a very bad situation with poor reserves compounding the situation. Tea Tree, sugar cane, cotton, butternut, timber, hay, wheat and Eragrostis seed production have all been adversely affected according to the survey results.

The impact of the drought on commodities not directly reliant on rainfall was also surveyed. The increase of the maize price, due to drought conditions across SA, has impacted greatly on many commodity groups, with a “snowball” effect for most farmers. The cattle/ beef industry cites a raise in fodder costs and future water reserves as reasons for a large slump in the industry. The poultry industry is also feeling the “knock-on” effect of the drought through increased feed prices, as are dairy and sheep farmers. Feedlots throughout KZN are subsequently struggling with low prices of their end products.

“The situation is series for the majority of our members yet the consistent message extracted from the results is one of hope. Hope for rain and for the Government to step in and step up for our farmers,” said La Marque.

Subsequently, many districts received good rains late last month; to see images of this rain in the various areas click on the link ….